Symphyotrichum foliaceum (Lindl. ex DC.) G.L. Nesom
leafy aster (alpine leafybract aster)
Asteraceae (Aster family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Jamie Fenneman     (Photo ID #4199)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Symphyotrichum foliaceum
Click here to view the full interactive map and legend

Species Information

Perennial herb from a fibrous-rooted rhizome or short, woody, stem-base; stems ascending to erect, branched above; 10-60 cm tall.
Basal leaves oblanceolate to egg-shaped below, usually stalked, often soon deciduous; middle stem leaves lanceolate to egg-shaped, unstalked, and often with clasping, ear-like flanges at the base, glabrous to soft-hairy, mostly entire, 2-12 cm long, 5-40 mm wide, 3.5-7 times as long as wide; upper leaves reduced.
Heads with ray and disk flowers, solitary to many in a rounded inflorescence; involucres 9-12 mm tall; involucral bracts graduated, the outer large and leaflike, the inner smaller, oblong, obtuse or abruptly sharp-pointed, glabrous on the back, fringed on the margins, white-margined at the base; ray flowers 15-60, rose-purple to blue or violet, 10-20 mm long; disk flowers yellow.
Achenes faintly nerved, glabrous to grey-hairy; pappus white to tawny or sometimes reddish.
This is a highly variable species and has been treated in various ways by different taxonomists (Douglas 1995). It appears best, at least in our region, to separate Aster foliaceus from the closely related A. subspicatus and to submerge all of the subspecific taxa recognized within A. foliaceus by some authors into one variable species. These subspecific taxa are mainly distinguished on stem heights and involucral bract lengths, which decrease with elevation.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.


Ecological Framework for Symphyotrichum foliaceum

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres)
1408 1 2500
Slope Gradient (%)
15 0 100

Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]

175 0 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
4 0 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
# of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class

All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in

AT(8), BAFA(5), BG(4), BWBS(4), CWH(3), ESSF(589), ICH(103), IDF(175), MH(6), MS(335), PP(16), SBPS(43), SBS(126), SWB(3)

Habitat and Range

Moist to mesic meadows, streambanks, slopes and forests in all vegetation zones; common in BC south of 56degreeN, infrequent in NW BC; N to AK, YT and NT, E to AB and S to NM, AZ and CA.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Aster foliaceus var. cusickii
Aster foliaceus var. lyallii